Difference Between a Monomer and a Polymer (With Table)

We all know everything is made with atoms and molecules. And chemical and physical properties depend on the bond and number of atoms and molecules only. It differentiates as the number or types of atoms differ. They are divided into groups commonly called Monomer and a Polymer. Both of these are different and unique to each other.

Monomer vs Polymer

The difference between Monomer and Polymer is in whether they can be seen with naked eyes or not, while polymer can be seen easily but monomer they cannot be seen without the help of microscopes. They also have different molecular weights. As monomers are microscopic, they also have lesser weight in comparison. Both of them also have different reactive nature towards chemicals. Except for all these, they also differ in terms of strength and their uses.

The monomer is a known term for the molecules of any class of compound. They are mostly organic. They react with other molecules to combine with others for the formation of larger molecules which are also known as polymers. This behavior of the molecules is known as reactions.

Polymers are basically long chains and compounds of the monomers which react to form polymers. Every polymer has its properties which are based on the attached molecules and how they are attached. These attachments are known as a bond. They also affect the properties of polymers as they can be found in various types.

Comparison Table Between a Monomer and a Polymer

Parameters of ComparisonMonomerPolymer
Molecular weightLowHigh
Building BlocksDifferent combinations unitsSingle repeating units
StrongLess strongStrong
ReactiveMore reactiveLess reactive
TypeMicroscopicMacroscopic

What is a Monomer?

The monomer is a known term for the molecules of any class of compound. They are mostly organic. They react with other molecules to combine with others for the formation of larger molecules which are also known as polymers. This behavior of the molecules is known as reactions. Every monomer at least can bond with two more monomers to make a larger compound. They are mostly organic. They are low in weight because of being not reacted to other than polymers or compounds.

They can be bounded with different elements to form different compounds. Their bonds are not so strong, which leads them to be more reactive. They can’t be seen with naked eyes due to their small size and smaller forms. They can be classified into many categories, such as natural and synthetic monomers. Polar v/s non-polar and other on is cyclic v/s linear. The last category is based on the structure of the compounds, e.g., ethylene oxide vs. ethylene glycol, whereas polar v/s non-polar is based on the reactivity criterion of the monomers, for example, vinyl acetate vs. ethylene. Natural v/s synthetic is based on their occurrence on this planet, for example, glycine vs. caprolactam.

What is a Polymer?

Polymers are long chains and compounds of the monomers which react to form polymers. Every polymer has its own properties, which are based on the attached molecules and how they are attached. These attachments are known as a bond. They also affect the properties of polymers as they can be found in various types. Example of polymers that are different in properties is like glass and rubber. Rubber is a polymer that can be stretched and bent just like polyester, whereas some are hard and rigid, just like glass and epoxies.

In common life, the polymer is used to refer to plastics as every plastic is made of polymer, whereas every polymer is not plastic. Plastics are so commonly used in our life that we can’t live without touching any plastic made item in 10 mins of our life which makes polymers significant in our lives. Two types of polymers exist on this globe. The first one is synthetic ones like plastics, whereas the other one is natural polymers like rubber and wood. Research for improvement and advanced technologies are still going on so that better innovations can be possible in the near future.

Main Differences Between a Monomer and a Polymer

  1. The main difference between Monomer and Polymer is in their complexity and molecular weight. Both of them have different molecular weights. When compared, polymers are highly complex and have higher molecular weight whereas monomer is much simpler with low molecular weight.
  2. Both of them are indeed building blocks, but the difference relies on the units. Polymers will always contain a single unit that will go on repeating, whereas monomers can also have a single unit and also different combinations of units.
  3. Both of them also differ in terms of strength. Polymer is stronger in comparison to the monomer.
  4. Both have different reactions towards chemicals, a polymer as mentioned above is stronger and therefore are not much reactive or are less susceptive towards chemicals on other hand monomer being less strong are more reactive as compared to polymers.
  5. Last but not least, they also differ in terms of size and types. Polymers are macroscopic molecules that mean they can be seen easily and can be measured in units such as kilo-mega, etc., whereas monomers are microscopic, meaning they cannot be seen easily or with naked eyes and measured in scale that cannot be seen with naked eyes such as mill, micro, etc.

Conclusion

Therefore, there should not be any confusion between Monomer and a Polymer. Both of them are made with atoms and molecules and are used in industrial chemical activities to relate to different materials and their constituents. They are build using the same construction principle. Both of them have different types and classifications along with their usage. Examples of Monomer are glucose, vinyl chloride, amino acids, and ethylene, and polymer are nylon, polyethylene, polyester, Teflon, and epoxy, etc.

For someone who is studying chemistry or working with chemicals, it is important to understand them as they have a very important role in chemistry as a whole.

References 

  1. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41563-018-0263-6
  2. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acs.macromol.5b00890
  3. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/adma.200801884
  4. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/ma902286a
  5. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0168365994000642
  6. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0168365994000642
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